Ever since I visited Mexico, I’ve been on a quest to find the best barbacoa in the country. Well, I’m not exactly sure if it’s the best, but I certainly know it’s the most authentic.
If you’re a pitmaster or BBQ enthusiast, you’ve probably heard of Los Calientes Barbacoa. It’s a common type of barbacoa that you’d find in almost any Central American restaurant, but for some reason the name Los Calientes stuck in my mind. I had to find out why.
I travel a lot for work, so I love going to restaurants to get a taste of the local cuisine. The one thing that always bothered me about eating out is how unhealthy the food was. The typical restaurant fare is high in fat, salt and calories. It was time to get back to the basics and make my own food at home. That is when I found Los Calientes Barbacoa. They offer a variety of meats (ribs, chicken and turkey), chilies and other toppings, plus a delicious BBQ sauce. The ingredients are fresh, healthy and locally-sourced, giving the finished product a taste that is truly unique.
Los Calientes is one of our favorite hot sauces of all time. We’ve included it in many of our top picks, and for good reason. It goes with everything (that’s the sole role of any good sauce).
Now, in 2024, Hot Ones has released a third iteration of the Los Calientes spicy sauce, called Barbacoa. This sauce is said to go back to the origins of barbecue, with an emphasis on earthy notes, smoked paprika and fresh herbs and spices.
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It’s hot: 2.5/5 – Right in the middle, perfect for sensitive people looking for warmth.
Trial: 5/5 – Familiar, but oh so delicious flavors.
Value: 4/5 – Unique, rich flavors like this are worth every penny.
General Assessment: 4.5/5 – Nothing particularly new except the title, but still great!
We lost count, but we must have devoured 6 or 7 bottles of the previous Los Calientes sauces. We loved the original, and the Rojo edition makes it even better by adding more heat and enhancing the flavor.
As you can imagine, we were delighted to hear that a new version was on the way. We ordered a few bottles the first day and tasted them immediately after delivery.
- Smoked Pepper
- Sweet apricot and agave
- Tart Tomatillos and Lime
How to use it…
- Place it on top of the grilled chicken.
- Macaroni and cheese has never been so good. ….
- Finish the pork sandwich
IngredientsLos Calientes Barbacoa (left) and Los Calientes Rojo (right).
The first tasting was done straight from the tasting spoon, and it wasn’t immediately obvious that anything had changed….. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it’s true that we were hoping for a little more variety.
After a few more spoons, however, subtle differences could be detected. It has a little more spice from the lime and a little deeper smoke flavor from the chipotles and applewood-smoked jalapeños.
I think the addition of chipotle is responsible for the dark color. But smoked jalapenos are actually chipotles, and we’re not exactly sure how they differ (and we’d love to know more).
Los Calientes Barbacoa Color vs Rojo.
The brilliant balance of complex spices remains unchanged, with just a few ingredients swapping places. The earthy notes combined with the sweet apricot are always a hit.
The heat is slightly reduced compared to the Rojo, but not by much. We find this sauce to be just a bit inferior to the original Los Calientes sauce, which is very good.
Los Calientes Barbacoa has an official Scoville rating of 33,000 SHU, which makes it slightly less hot than the original Los Calientes hot sauce. In our opinion, all Los Cal sauces are within the optimal temperature range for use.
In the past, Los Calientes has consistently ranked fifth on the Hot Ones on YouTube. But when the Barbacoa sauce came out, it was moved to #4. This is probably due to the fact that all the hotter sauces are in the lower half of the range.
Coherence and texture
Again, the texture and consistency don’t seem to have changed much. The Barbacoa de Los Calientes has a thick, slightly syrupy texture, with small pieces of bell pepper and apricots.
Barbacoa de Los Calientes Texture.
The sauce does not smear, but flows very easily from the standard spout of the bottle. The sugar keeps the sauce from splitting, and the lime juice and vinegar lighten it for a smooth finish.
Los Calientes Rojo Sources of supply
The price hasn’t changed either: the Los Calientes edition barbacoa costs $12, the same price as all of Hot Ones’ other all-natural sauces. For now, this version of the sauce is available exclusively on Heatonist.
While not much different from the original, the Barbacoa de Los Calientes is still an excellent sauce. And frankly, it would be more than disappointing if Karma Sauce made too many changes.
Enter our hot sauce contest!
One of the original ones! When he’s not gardening and learning about peppers and botany, Calvin is traveling to new places or making music.